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Puerto Rican independence movement, 1898-present

Michael Staudenmaier


For more than a century the movement for independence from the United States has been a prominent feature of political life among Puerto Ricans. The uniqueness of the movement relative to other nationalist efforts lies partly in the way Puerto Rico straddles North America and Latin America: it is a Caribbean island sharing common historical and cultural roots with the former colonies that make up the vast territory of Spanish-speaking Latin America, but those paths diverged after the Treaty of Paris in 1898 ceded control of the island from Spain to the United States. The subsequent diaspora, which eventually resulted in a situation where half of all Puerto Ricans live in the US, has only added to the complexity. As a result, the Puerto Rican independence movement has long synthesized a set of disparate elements more commonly associated with protest struggles in the United States or with revolutionary efforts in Latin America. The historical antecedents of the independence movement lie in the struggle against Spanish rule, especially during the last half of the nineteenth century. Resistance to colonialism was continuous among the indigenous Taino population from the earliest arrival of the conquistadors, and the introduction of African slaves only increased the necessity and opportunity for struggle, particularly through the creation of maroon communities in the mountainous center ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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